Poem of the Day - Archive

San Francisco Poet Laureate Kim Shuck is curating a Poem of the Day with San Francisco Public Library for every day during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check daily for new poetic offerings from assorted local poets.

Here is an archive of the previous Poems of the Day:


By What Measure
by Kim Shuck


What word
This water
This dune
Eternity signs
Every particle
As small and as large as
Human patience can measure
How many thumb lengths
Eyelash weights
Lungs full?
How unseen?
How felt in the backs of my knees?
How does this lake fill the palm of my hand?
How does it clench my imagination
And then my memory
How many new minted colors of blue and grey and green?
Largest by this and that but
Not by the other?
How big is dance?



It was a Warm Summer Day
By Al Robles  ©1995


Listen to this:

It was a warm summer day
And i was out in the park
Strolling without a worry
In the world

And i came to a bend where
A middle-aged couple sat
Feeding the birds & yapping
About Vietnam and Cambodia

They turned and looked at me
And said, “Are you Pilipino?”
And I said no.

Then they asked me
If I were Mexican
And I said no

They they asked me
If I were Japanese
And I said no.

Then they asked me
If I were Chinese
And I said no.
And then they looked at each other
& the birds kept flapping their wings
And said, “You must be Korean.”

It was a warm summer day
And I was strolling in the park
Without a worry in the world
And this couple had to ask me
Questions like that

I told them to keep feeding the
Birds and quit asking me any more
Stupid questions like that.
And they looked at each other

Again and smiled and then said, “Son
We’re on America’s side.  Come on tell
Us!  Where did you come from?”

I told them I clean toilets
And they got so angry at me
They called me all kinds of names.

And they still wanted to find out
Who I was and where I came from

They started to give me some crumbs
And they wanted me to open my mouth
& tell then everything

I kept on telling then I was against
America.  And they got so angry at me
& told me to go back where I came from
And i sat there lookin’ at the trees
And the birds
And they just kept on yapping away
And they just kept on yapping away
Louder & louder, “Why don’t
You go back where you came from?”

I told them I jumped out of my mama’s
Womb & goddamn it if i could jump back
In there I’d do it right now
And they got so angry at me & threw
The crumbs right in my face and I laughed
So hard & I laughed so hard my belly ached.
And I knew i had to be on my way
‘Cause I had my belly full.



Making Business Proposals with Ancestral lands-

Phillip Standing Bear (excerpt from poormagazine.org )


“Paha Sapa, The heart of everything that is” at least that is what my people, the Lakota Sioux Nation, say about our homeland.  The dark black rolling hills filled with the smell of pure oxygen thanks to the pine trees, sticky with sweet smelling sap made by my peoples as a syrup source, small clear creeks filled with minnows. Hot and green during the summer and cold and snowy during the winter.The tall majestic pines are a testament to the Earths' fertile, dark pungent soil, which I think of when thinking of the struggle of Oak Flats. The Lakota creeks were clean enough to drink from, the sky always blue and clear, even when a storm rolled through, the Paha Sapa changed any fearsome storm to a calming downpour with the smells of the pines only amplified with the rain. Any snowstorm was well welcomed with the thought of being suurounded by “Christmas Trees” as children. Paha Sapa, like any land as gracious as that, would be considered sacred lands, but as we say here at Deecolonize Academy, nothing left is sacred.
As a young Lakota warrior who is currently struggling with houselessness in San Francisco , I find the theft of land today still appaling. My name is Phillip Standing Bear, poverty skola to inform you of the atrocities of land theft. I can atest to the wrongful act of land theft through my own Lakota peoples Paha Sapa, or the Black Hills of South Dakota. Just like Oak Flats, the Black Hills was uprooted of First Nations Lakota peoples for the fact that gold resided in the depths of the land. Treaties were broken or never held, for the sake of profit. Even today treaties long been ignored are still uprooted for the sake of profits. The only way we get that land back is when it is destroyed and is no longer the place we once called home.


Youth PovertySkola with POORmagazine


by Ziair Hughes


My name is ziair
i come from o’block where people slang the
Glocks and sell rocks
when I walk down my block
I here pop pop
Here come the cops
people get killed on the spot

formerly houseless youth poverty skola and student of Deecolonize Academy



Kali Entered My Room In Red


Kali entered my room in red
burn she said
so I burned
everything I no longer wanted
old watches, photographs, files
not enough
burn she said
so I burned a few things I really
wanted once
your photographs for example
not enough
burn she said
so I burned what I thought
I really needed
memories, excuses, unfinished gifts
not enough
burn she said
so I burned what I thought
was real, my poems my fingers my bones
not enough
burn she said
so I burned my heart
and it came back to me as fire
living in the eyes of others
enough she said



mother earth beautiful
By Amir Cornish


animals roaming the earth trying to survive like humans but us humans keep on destroying mama earth for the animals not survive no more life .

Water make my tongue juicy bring me home mama earth but how we mess the earth up and the taste of water it's just like life but i can't explain it but like tasting a fresh river that never dirty before.

I am Amir Xavior Askcary cornish from West Oakland Streets. I'm a human trying to live life nobody care about me.only my family but I'm striving to be that person who change this world into better happy place.

Me and family we have struggle with police harassment pull out guns without telling us about what going on police officer said nothing to us.

- Formerly Houseless Youth Poverty SKola Deecolonize Academy and resident of Homefulness



Im a Poverty skola
By Kimo Umu


Yo Im a poverty SKola, with a chip on sholda. Still fighting the system keepin it goin like soulja. When times get rough and tough, N im like i had enough, I pick myself up to break outta these cuffs. Liberating my conscious, as yall look in astonishment. Racking  knockouts like my name is jack johnson. Freedom from this system, breaking down the parliament

youth povertySkola



by Alexandra Mattraw
(from We Fell Into Weather, The Cultural Society 2020)


           over tuned sand     we unzip
            plastic/tongue     fevered screens
      to drink/lunch clots     confetti PBT
           isles/we become     aerial drifts
              in our lungs     knot brighter
                Pbs/rubber     PBJ/grainy
             hieroglyphics     to hook/orange
                               of twelve nations

                               weight of
               500 PCBs or     Jumbo jets
     a yellow bucket holds     my son to acronymic       
        reduction/a single     white handle
             he land-fills

        retch brine stench     at my neck
         exfoliates breath     warmer/microbeads
           trap sun/unseen     splash in my mouth
            exposures open     soundless as if

               to float in     kelp dioxin

               tidal wings     hiss bony/USDs   
                 he pushes     down unsinkable CFCs 
      his submarine a size     of Texas/unimaginable
             I can’t trawl     terra data
          but serrate into     smaller pieces

           shoring rosary      beads/our laughter  
       resurfaces flowers      worn again
          like blue moths      pressed waist flat I drink
         vertical I drink

                               the waterline in 
          this over tuned      land/now dressed   
               biphenyl/I      unshell his 
         counting without      shadow ruins
              he swallows      my duress my



for Richard Sanderell
By Kim Shuck


Poet borrowed snake scales
Painted self with stones
To cradle open heart
Open heart
Word armor
Pulled precise

A more than silence
Just breath
Another breath
And up the hill we
Tied every thought of unpain
Every  “as you would want it”
We could find
To the water that ran under our house
The wall you wanted to be nearer to
Run down the invisible arroyo, cousin
Breathe easy



by Richard Sanderell


Jaguar walks night. Wind blows through jungle, warning sounds as howler monkeys howl, or those who sing who who, who who on top, choirs of birds, animals sound warnings. Jaguar is passing by, feminine, giver, taker of life.

Jaguar displays her beautiful color coat of yellows, browns, spots, walks regally protector, guardian of night. Chorus of sounds persist as she casually strolls. She ruler has no one to fear this night, no human borders need be crossed or fires set to run from. With full stomach from recent kill, she enjoys her walk through her domain always on the look out for game to pounce or waterways to swim.

Copyright 2017



He Asked Me


why I haven't read
aloud in a while. That it could be cathartic.

It's been literal weeks.
Maybe months, even.

I told him - I'm not ready.
You see, I write what I know.
I know what I experience.
When you read my words, I hope
I put you in the room with them

The bizarre, optimistic smile on her face
The talk of excitement for the hours to come
Something so obscene and inappropriate
for a room as sterile as the one we sat in
for far too long

And later,
When my dad's voice repeats,
'Yes. I see. Yes, got you. Thank you,'
numerous times, voice unwavering, but slightly
higher than usual...

That you sit in my seat across the
table from him while he sets the phone
down, buries his face in his hands,
and weeps silently. My 'unfeeling'
English father, spilling tears
that highlight all of my worst fears.

I hope you can feel the same
chest in your stomach
why the fuck us?
why now?

feeling that I got,
when he finally spoke.

“They found a 3-millimeter growth
on her sentinel node.
We won't know how much it
spread for a few days."

Some write to cope with their cancer.
I write to cure it.
And because I can't
I don't.



the messenger
by Gabor Gyukics


the bird-messenger
appearing for no reason
is unthinkable
as it was followed
by verdant patches on trees and bushes
what’s this if not possible pieces of our madness
which appear as non-competitive details of life
emanating out of man
like most everything else
that creak inside us during winter time
and gives us serious strength to continue
that's why we’re able to
chop iron with iron
piece after piece
helping us recognize
death as an acknowledgment of life
this is what throws us up without batting an eye
and fires our frozen engine



by Anissa Malady


the last thing
before the last.
vanishing in a History
of my own making.
staring at things
no one can see.
a ferocious
converts me to memory.
express forth
with much force.
words flow



the great alliance of oklahoma
by jennifer fox bennett
{for m. anquoe}


note: the kiowa and the odawa are two nations indigenous to the central regions of north
america. in the late 18th century, the kiowa were relocated to oklahoma, as well as a
small portion of the odawas.
me & you
the odawa and the kiowa
like a great nebular collusion of blood
we’ll load the trunk of our beloved, duct-taped steed
whose diligent machinery, deoxyribonucleic acid and differential equations
are mapped like constellations and held with mythological fishing string
we’ll give her a name like “quaint”
who wears her grill like a sneer
and drives on asphalt pity all the way downtown with the hazards on
i'll pack my shotgun heart and razor tongue
and you,
you can take your marble bag full of pocket-sized aztec figurines
you & me
the kiowa and the odawa
we’ll storm city hall with a brown paper bag flag
dry as the blood washed through the soil so many years ago
and coup the dead grass that waves us through
we’ll set fire to the department of records
and watch the ashes of all the deeds in the whole fucken county flare up
and flicker away into the abhorrence of stars
and when we do, our laughter will float to the thunderheads
rise like smoke and dandelion dust
and broadcast our caffeinated dreams
like a great apocalyptic alliance of tears.